After vetoes, Youngkin’s budget “olive branch” unlikely to persuade Democrats

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Monday presents revisions to the budget passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in March. This is a screenshot of video of the presentation. (Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin)


By Michael O'Connor

April 9, 2024

Democrats expressed skepticism over Youngkin’s desire to find common ground in budget talks given how active the governor has been in vetoing their priorities.

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin extended a budgetary olive branch to Democrats in the General Assembly on Monday, but whether it bears any fruit remains to be seen.

After weeks of partisan rancor over spending and legislative priorities, Youngkin released on Monday a package of more than 230 budget amendments to the two-year spending plan passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly in March. The governor said his proposals would remove tax increases called for by Democrats as well as the tax cuts Youngkin had hoped for.

“It’s time for us to look to places where we can agree as opposed to looking to places where we disagree,” Youngkin said in a presentation Monday of what he branded his “Common Ground budget.”

Youngkin said his budget proposal restores $230 million of his spending priorities that got cut from his initial budget proposal. The General Assembly’s budget cut over $850 million of Youngkin’s priority spending items, according to the governor.

Building on the budget passed by the General Assembly, the governor’s two-year spending proposal includes 3% raises for teachers and state employees each year, toll relief for Hampton Roads, and full funding for Virginia’s share of Metro’s short-term funding needs.

Democrats expressed skepticism about the sincerity of Youngkin’s desire to find common ground given how much ink he’s spilled with his veto pen. Youngkin vetoed 153 bills, amended 116, and signed 777 sent to him by the General Assembly this year.

The governor struck down Democratic priorities like increasing the minimum wage, allowing retail marijuana sales, and an assault weapons ban. Youngkin on Friday vetoed four reproductive health measures, two of which would have protected abortion care providers’ licenses while the other two would have protected those assisting with abortion from extradition.

“Glenn Youngkin asking us to work together while he is vetoing hundreds of bills is unimaginable and exactly why he has almost zero support left in the General Assembly even among his own party,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Virginia lawmakers will consider Youngkin’s budget amendments and other legislative actions in Richmond on April 17.

Even as Youngkin struck a more conciliatory tone in budget talks with the General Assembly, “significant daylight” remains between the two sides, which have a history of contentious debate going back to the Youngkin’s first days in office, Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said in an interview.

A key question now is whether the legislature is in the mood to compromise as Youngkin has indicated he is. Given that Democrats control the General Assembly, it is likely they will use that leverage to their advantage, Farnsworth said.

“The governor has offered an olive branch, but it’s a relatively small olive branch,” Farnsworth said. “My guess is the Democrats are going to want more from what they’ve seen from the governor so far.”

  • Michael O'Connor

    Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering Virginia news since 2013 with reporting stints at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Business, and Richmond BizSense. A graduate of William & Mary and Northern Virginia Community College, he also covered financial news for S&P Global Market Intelligence.



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